The Federal Bureau of Investigation is joining the Madison Police Department in investigating the attack on Althea Bernstein early Wednesday morning.
Bernstein, an 18-year-old woman who told Madison365 she identifies as Black, reported to police that four white men approached her car on West Gorham Street — one yelled a racial epithet. One of the men sprayed Bernstein with a liquid, later identified as lighter fluid, and threw a flaming lighter at her, resulting in the liquid igniting.
Madison 365 reported Bernstein received second and third degree burns to the face and neck.
MPD’s Public Information Officer Joel Despain confirmed to Madison 365 Friday that the FBI was assisting in the investigation due to the crime’s “egregious” nature and the national attention the incident received.
Bernstein spoke about the incident to Good Morning America Friday.
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“I’m very very hopeful these men sort of see all the responses, and they know that they hurt me,” Bernstein said. “This is something that’s going to affect me for a while, and I really hope that they choose to improve themselves.”
MPD said Bernstein will need to make additional medical visits to treat her injuries. Bernstein told GMA she hasn’t slept properly or had an appetite since the incident occurred.
MPD said they are investigating this as a hate crime and ask anyone with information to contact Madison Area Crime Stoppers at (608) 266-6014 or P3Tips.com.